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By LARRY VAUGHT
Shelby County athletics director Sally Zimmerman is thrilled to have Hurt joining the basketball staff and credits assistant Kevin Armstrong, who was on the 1978 Shelby state championship team with Hurt, for starting the process to get the former Kentucky star on the bench this season.
“Coach Couch said he would be star struck because he grew up watching Charles play,” Zimmerman said. “We had a wonderful conversation when we met and I told him I would get back to him on how we would pay him and a few things. He said, ‘If you pay me one cent, I am not doing it. I want to give back. Call it whatever you want, but I am not going to get paid.’ How special is that? We were able to complete our staff at no additional cost, and that’s really a huge bonus.”
Hurt said he never considered taking any pay.
“I have been away and this is my first time doing it (coaching). When somebody says pay that is because they have extra expectations. I want to see how this works. It is something I have thought about for a long time. Being in the military over 20 years, I was not able to fulfill that part of my life,” Hurt said. “I am going to be there every day but I didn’t want to take money from the community or school. It’s just the right thing for me to do. I am a retired military guy. I have my pension. I get to play golf in the summer. I am not hurting (financially).”
Hurt is worried about whether he can make significant contributions to the program.
“I know it won’t be long I go in there and everything turns around. They have a terrific head coach they just hired from (Louisville) Eastern and I want to learn from him,” the former UK star said. “Whatever they need me to do, whatever capacity they want me in, I am there for that. I have not forgotten the game of basketball, so hopefully I can help.
“I know it will be the kids’ parents, not the kids, who know me. I am in the community more now. I see the kids, but their parents are the ones who recognize me.”
Zimmer believes Hurt is a bit more recognizable in Shelby than he realizes.
“We had an event last year where we invited former players back, especially those from the 1978 championship team,” she said. “He ended up coming right at the last second before we were getting ready to walk on the floor. All his teammates were so excited and I think then he realized the name he still had here in this county by that appearance.”
Next: Hurt was never one to seek the limelight.